Lay off plans at Aer Lingus premature – Fórsa

Fórsa, which represents cabin crew and other grades at Aer Lingus, has said the company’s plans to unilaterally lay off staff and to reduce hours and pay after 21st June is premature. The union said there remains a full month to explore and negotiate available options while unprecedented support from the State remains in place.

Fórsa made the comments today (Friday) following a meeting between the group of unions, led by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), and the company this afternoon.

Nobody is pretending it will be easy but to shut the door on discussions with a month of state-subsidised support still to go, is not the way to solve the enormous challenges faced by the industry.

In a memo to members issued after the meeting, unions said the airline had confirmed its intention to extend current arrangements for pay, funded in-part by the Government wage subsidy scheme, until 21st June. However, unions said the company intends to take unilateral measures beyond that date, including lay-offs and further reductions to hours and pay.

Fórsa official Angela Kirk said the company’s plans are premature: “The effect of Covid-19 is not just an issue for Aer Lingus and its staff. It’s the most significant crisis for the entire Irish aviation industry in a generation, with the potential to adversely affect the commercial connectivity of the country.

“To act unilaterally now, and to abandon the efforts to negotiate a solution to the current crisis, and plan for a future recovery, is to squander the time remaining to negotiate real solutions.

This is the most significant crisis for the entire Irish aviation industry in a generation, with the potential to adversely affect the commercial connectivity of the country.

“Nobody is pretending it will be easy, but to shut the door on discussions with a month of state-subsidised support still to go, is not the way to solve the enormous challenges faced by the industry.

“While this is a very serious development the unions are resolved to continue to protect the position of our members, maintain employment in the airline and protect to the greatest possible extent the earnings and living standards of members. We will be engaging with our elected cabin crew and other grade representatives in the coming days,” she said.

The group of unions, which includes Connect, SIPTU and Unite, has told the airline it must continue to honour all existing collective agreements, and that any proposed measures must conform to the terms of those agreements.

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